German Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed on Wednesday that Germany’s coronavirus partial lockdown will not be lifted until December 20 at the earliest, and may be extended until the beginning of January.
“This is absolutely not the time to sound the all-clear,” she told journalists, after the number of deaths from the virus reached a daily record.
Certain additional restrictions are introduced, but there will be a brief amnesty over Christmas. However, restaurants and bars will be required to stay closed over the holiday period.
Until December 20, meetings with friends and relatives are limited to one other household, and up to a maximum of five people, while bars, restaurants, and gyms will remain closed.
Merkel said the exponential increase in new infections had come to a halt. “The steeply rising curve has become a flat one, but this is only a partial success. We can by no means be satisfied with this partial success,” she said.
Extra restrictions include the wearing of masks in some situations in schools and the limit for meetings reduced from 10 people to five people from two households. Travel for holidays, in particular ski vacations, are strongly discouraged until at least January 10.
“After March, I am very optimistic because we will probably be able to vaccinate more and more people and it will be easier to keep infection rates low with the spring.”
On Wednesday, the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s disease control center, reported 18,633 new cases nationwide with 410 deaths. If the current rate of infection persists, Germany will pass 1 million total cases at the weekend.
Germany imposed a month-long “lockdown lite” on November 2 to rein in a second wave that is sweeping much of Europe.